Kathleen Mary "Kathy" Griffin (born November 4, 1960) is an American actress, stand-up comedian, television personality, New York Times best-selling author and an LGBT rights advocate. Griffin first gained recognition for appearances on two episodes of Seinfeld, and then for her supporting role on the NBC sitcom Suddenly Susan. She was the star of the Bravo reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, for which she won two Emmy Awards as executive producer. She has also worked as a voice artist and red carpet commentator, in addition to several other career pursuits. In 2009, 2010 and 2011 she was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. In her bid to win a Tony Award, she made her Broadway debut in Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony in March 2011.
Kathleen Mary Griffin was born in Oak Park, Illinois on November 4, 1960. Her mother, Mary Margaret "Maggie" (née Corbally), and her father, John Patrick Griffin, were first-generation Irish Americans. Maggie worked as a cashier in the Oak Park Hospital. The last of five children, her siblings are Kenny, Joyce, Gary, and John. Griffin described herself during her early years as "a kid who needed to talk. All the time." She would often visit her neighbors, the Bowens, to tell them stories about her family; she has referred to these visits as her first live shows and the place where she learned "the power of juicy material". When most of her siblings moved, Griffin often spent hours alone in the house, and she developed a binge eating disorder. She explained that even though eating disorders were not very well known at that time, she knew that her eating behavior was aberrant and always threw the garbage away in the neighbor's can. In her 2009 autobiography Official Book Club Selection, Griffin confessed that she "still suffers " but has learned to "deal with them".
As a young girl Griffin attended St. Bernadine's Elementary School, and began to develop a dislike for organized religion due to the punishments of the nuns towards her and other "vulnerable" students. After graduation, she attended Oak Park River Forest High School and sought refuge in musical theatre, playing roles such as Rosemary on How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof. During her senior year she began arguing with her parents, who wanted her to attend college, because she wanted to become a professional actress. Her first appearance on television was as an extra on a Chicago White Sox commercial and was signed with different Chicago talent agencies. At age eighteen, Griffin convinced her parents to move to Los Angeles to help her become famous.